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Government Admits Spying Via Facebook

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the next-they'll-poke-you dept.

Facebook 240

Velcroman1 writes "Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously said that the age of privacy is over. And the government wants to ensure that, it seems. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's FOIA request has revealed government memos encouraging agents to befriend people on a variety of social networks, to take advantage of their readiness to share — and to spy on them. Thanks to this request, the government released a handful of documents, including a May 2008 memo detailing how social-networking sites are exploited by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS), and one revealing how the DHS monitored social media during the Obama inauguration."

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240 comments

Anyone surprised? (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894092)

It's a way for individuals to connect and organize in a way that many of them think is private. Ripe fruit for wandering government eyes.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894454)

...in a way that many of them think is private.

This is an anecdote that expired a few years ago. I do not believe that there are very many people at all that still believe this. Indeed, it's *ALL OVER* the news about how very little of people's "on-line" life is private.

Re:Anyone surprised? (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894560)

I'm referring to sending private messages between people, keeping their privacy settings locked down, etc.

Besides, there are people that still think Obama is a muslim hell-bent on destroying America. There are people that still believe in the big, invisible man. There are people who still judge by skin color, for fuck's sake. I'm sure there are people who still think their online life is private.

Re:Anyone surprised? (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894908)

The difference here is that people deserve some modicum of privacy. Granted, putting things public is not the way to do it, but we need a better balance than gov't spying without a court order.

I also agree that the aforementioned people are also the kinds that make those crazy christian coalitions and get hellbent on assassinating the prez or other ridiculously insane ideas. The correlation of religion and violence is astounding within certain religions, and I mean christian and not necessarily muslim.

Re:Anyone surprised? (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895108)

Euhm, quite frankly if you were tasked with keeping the president safe on that day ... wouldn't you do the same ?

All they "spied" upon was information published by the individuals, do you really have any sense of privacy of your facebook wall ? And of course, people had to ACCEPT this government "intrusion". It was 100% opt-in.

This is like people taking a shower and complaining they get wet. Completely nonsensical.

Besides, government spying on facebook ... who cares. If only the companies on facebook stopped doing the same AND spamming, now that'd be great.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895170)

If you want privacy, don't post personal details of your life online. Don't assume because you set things to private that only certain people will be able to see them. Follow those rules and you won't feel so exposed.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895228)

^^^This times a thousand. I'm fairly active on Facebook, but I still only post things that I wouldn't mind my mother or local police department hearing about.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

PuckstopperGA (1204112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895362)

That's ridiculous. The whole point of facebook is that it is a private place for you and whoever you authorize, and no one else (be it mom or the PD, depending on if you "add" them). The real solution is to not post things on facebook that you don't want contacts on your friends list to see.

Re:Anyone surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894780)

I think you overestimate the people's attention span when it comes to what is in the news. A recent poll revealed that an obscene percentage of people had no idea who John Boehner is. And he is literally all over the news, what with the upcoming elections and all.

Re:Anyone surprised? (0, Offtopic)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895138)

Honestly how many people should/would care who he is outside of his 700,000 or so constituents in Ohio? I for one am relieved that not everyone plays into the soap opera style dramatics that the mainstream media tries to turn Congress into. Sure, it's far from perfect, but the cast of characters they have crafted from the leadership is nothing short of Epic (in the theatric sense.)

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895398)

You know what's even worse I miss read John Boehner as Justin Bieber. The only reason I realized that I miss read it is because of the statement "obscene percentage of people had no idea who $NAME is"

I have no clue who John Boehner is I don't follow political news.

Re:Anyone surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894630)

Not surprising at all, unless you think this is a democracy. Government "of the people" is pretty laughable, right?

No, real democracy is still a ways off: http://metagovernment.org/wiki/Collaborative_governance [metagovernment.org]

--
In Collaborative Russia (and everywhere else), government IS you.

Re:Anyone surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894952)

OK, buddy. Off to jail with you.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894954)

Even then, calling this spying is rather like complaining when someone you let into your room remembers something you blared at them with a megaphone. It's not like you whispered "don't tell this to anyone else."

If you're sending a private message to this person with vital information, then chances are he's already 'spying' on you in other ways, like in person. Or you're an idiot.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895064)

Not surprised, considering that when facebook was founded there were a flurry of rumors that it was partly funded by the NSA, that Zuckerberg himself was a federal employee, and all kinds of things relating to how if the government wanted to collect information on its citizens without really trying, that a nice big free social network was exactly the way to do it.

Who knows how much of it is true, but holy crap is the latter part right or what.

Re:Anyone surprised? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895274)

Yes, it's somewhat of a surprise for me: there's information on facebook that is of interest to them? Does this mean that terrorists are such idiots that they give clues as to their plans in their status updates? What is it about facebook that makes all people act stupid? I guess I'm not as surprised as if the FBI announced it had been active on hotornot.com, but TFA also mentions they monitor twitter? Yeah, that's surprising to me, since it implies at least a few criminals are so stupid, they tweet their crimes before they do them (which, when I state it outright like that, I'm more surprised that I was surprised...)

Alternatively, I'm surprised that the government is -admitting- they facebook on the job and saying it's part of their job. I didn't expect them to be that clever. I wonder if I can get away with that on my job. "Hey Boss. No, I'm not procrastinating, I'm checking up on, er, colleagues to make sure they're not going to scoop us..."

Nothing New Here (3, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894104)

Anyone who was on Kuro5hin in 2002 knew the Secret Service was keeping an eye on it. I'm sure they watch /. as well.

Agent Provocateur (4, Interesting)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894588)

I'm sure they watch /. as well.

Do you think they have an agent provocateur on /. as well? Assuming they do, it might be interesting to hold a Slashdot Poll on who we think it is.

Re:Agent Provocateur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894802)

I bet it's that "Anonymous Coward" guy. He says all kinds of crap.

Re:Agent Provocateur (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894878)

It's me.

Or am I lying?

Or am I hoping that you'll think I'm lying so that you won't know it's really me.

Or is this whole site just a front for a huge government spy ring, and you, srussia, are the only non-government poster?

Re:Agent Provocateur (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895102)

Assuming they do, it might be interesting to hold a Slashdot Poll on who we think it is.

I'd say John Katz the guy that wrote all those horrid articles about "the post 9/11 world". Probably he wanted to flush out the subversives so they could be HUNTED by the FBI/CIA/etc.

If you commented on one of his articles and got modded up, best avoid the Middle East unless you're really a terrorist. In which case you've got some information to give the local government's interrogators to make them stop.

Re:Nothing New Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33895222)

Secret Service was keeping an eye on it. I'm sure they watch /. as well.

Well, I guess I shouldn't blab about my Nitrogen triiodide [wikipedia.org] made from Iodine-131 [wikipedia.org]. My biggest problem is the half-life of 8.02 days makes it somewhat...impractical to stockpile.

Just a sec...there's someone knocking...

In all fairness... (5, Insightful)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894180)

It isn't actually "spying" if the person is willingly sharing information, or has information posted that everyone can read. "Spying" is getting information that a person doesn't want others to have.

Re:In all fairness... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894342)

Exactly.

If you go sharing information with strangers you don't know, then they haven't spied on you!

The world has gone insane. Positively bat shit.

Re:In all fairness... (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894438)

I was thinking much the same thing... What we're actually seeing here isn't spying, but a form of undercover work.

The moral of the story is the same as always: If you wouldn't want your mother to know, don't post it online.

Undercover work is spying, is violating privacy. (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895358)

I was thinking much the same thing... What we're actually seeing here isn't spying, but a form of undercover work.

Privacy is a function of sharing information with a limited set of people. You may want your wife to see you naked, but that doesn't mean you want everybody walking by your house to look in your bathroom window. You may want to share that embarrassing problem with your doctor, but that doesn't mean you want it in the newspaper. You may want your credit counselor to know about all your bad debt, but that doesn't mean you talk about it at the company picnic. You may want your friends to know where you're going to be this weekend, but that doesn't mean you want government workers to keep an eye on your movements.

What is spying if not one entity trying to obtain information that the counterparty does not want shared with it? What is undercover work if not planting spies to obtain such information?

Re:In all fairness... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894546)

With the typically sharing-by-default policies that Facebook seems to be constantly dropping on people's accounts, I don't see why they're even bothering to friend people anymore, honestly.

Re:In all fairness... (1)

jours (663228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894638)

Not only willingly sharing, but actually "friending" the agent. That's like inviting the agent over for a dinner party with all your friends. Yeah, sort of hard to maintain an expectation of privacy there...

Re:In all fairness... (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894826)

Sharing information under the false pretense of being your friend while actually informing on your activities and thoughts to the government is exactly what I would call spying and typical behavior of authoritarian government.

Re:In all fairness... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894676)

I disagree - isn't it spying if a person is handing over information to someone who he would not do so, *if* he knew the full situation? If somebody friends me on Facebook I might share stuff with them under the (generally reasonable, I think) assumption that they're not a government agent.

Re:In all fairness... (2, Insightful)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894852)

No since you, the user, didn't care enough to find out who this "friend" was and because of that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy from a stranger you invited into your circle of confidence. If you want privacy, keep things private by not sharing them, which you already do by putting them on a server not under your control. The onus to keep something private is completely on you up to the point where the law is actually broken and you can't possible be able to maintain your privacy.

If a government agency installed a black box in Facebook's datacenter, that would be an actual violation and perhaps "spy" would apply.

Re:In all fairness... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894762)

It's a pretty blurry line, and a key part of "information that a person doesn't want others to have" is who those "others" are. Presumably, there's information that people give out on Facebook etc. that they want their friends to have, but not someone at DHS trolling for points to use against them. Now, you can argue that these people are idiots, that they shouldn't "friend" people so readily, that they shouldn't trust FB's (complete lack of) security, etc. -- and all that is true, but a spy who takes advantage of sloppy security practices is still a spy.

Re:In all fairness... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895012)

In other words, "the age of privacy is over" if like an idiot you share information you don't want public with the public. Funny thing that.

Although in the interests of full disclosure, I don't even have a Facebook account. If somebody wants to tell me about their life, we can have a nice low-tech conversation. I don't get all the latest juice on everyone I conceivably know, but I get a lot of good face-to-face time.

Re:In all fairness... (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895150)

I don't see how pretending to be somebody else in order to obtain information could be misconstrued as "spying".

Phillip.

Re:In all fairness... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895304)

It isn't actually "spying" if the person is willingly sharing information, or has information posted that everyone can read. "Spying" is getting information that a person doesn't want others to have.

This seems to be unconstitutional. On one hand, we have the First Amendment, on the other hand there is the Fourth Amendment. Now... if terrorists or criminals are publicly posting their exploits, well that is different. But initiating investigations based entirely on Constitutionally protected opinion or association is certainly a violation, and such investigations, once they get beyond what is public, in turn, violate the Fourth.

In the future.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894232)

In the future only terrorists don't use facebook!

Oh, please God. noooo!!!! (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894234)

Next they'll be reading billboards, magazines and, well, every other place where people post information for others to see.

Re:Oh, please God. noooo!!!! (1)

dgower2 (1487929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894744)

FUNNY!!! Imagine the ridicule our government would get if they didn't use an obvious source of information like "look_at_me_im_important"book

+5 Informative (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894886)

007 likes Aston Martin.

Re:Oh, please God. noooo!!!! (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895048)

There is a difference, though. A lot of people think that by setting information their privacy settings, they are ensuring that the government would have to put effort into getting the information (e.g. a court order).

it's a request (4, Insightful)

dirk (87083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894274)

I don't see any issue with this as long as they are requesting access and not being fraudulent about their request. If Joe Governmentworker sends you a friend request, and you accept it, you are giving him permission to view your data. If you don't know him, then you shouldn't accept the friend request.

Now if they are using fake profiles and false information to do this, then I see an issue, but as long as they are legitimate accounts, I don't see a problem with it at all.

Re:it's a request (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894618)

Now if they are using fake profiles and false information to do this, then I see an issue, but as long as they are legitimate accounts, I don't see a problem with it at all.

While I generally agree, you shouldn't accept a friend request if you're not entirely sure you know the person requesting it. This is basically the equivalent of phishing, and whether it’s the US gov't or some royal family member in Ethiopia looking for $1,000 dollars, you should always check where the request is coming from.

i don't understand the shock here (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894280)

the practice of law enforcement is an actual valid endeavour. what is going on here is less east german secret police tracking innocent civilians, and more plain old gum shoe police work against actual criminals

and really, to get right down to it: you don't have any protection from what you put out on the web being revealed. this includes old friends from high school, potential employers, spamvertisers... and the government. so if you don't want it revealed or shared, DON'T PUT IT ON THE WEB. why does this amazingly obvious fact escape people?

it just seems kind of insane to me that people want to share stuff in public on an open medium, and then act shocked and dismayed that someone MIGHT ACTUALLY SEE IT. its some sort of human pscyhological blind spot: for some unknown reason, people trust the web with really personal details, when the web is about the exact opposite of the kind of place you want to put those personal details. its as if people don't actually understand that the internet is the most searchable, most wide open medium invented by mankind, but we treat it as if it is our private diary stashed under our bed. why is that? what is the source of this glaring psychological defect so many of us share about the nature of the internet?

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894476)

What I don't understand is how they fit the whole internet on my laptop. When I don't want the gubment to spy on me i just turn off my computer. Problem Solved!

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894730)

I'm not sure datamining qualifies as gumshoe work, but I agree with the rest of your sentiment. If you don't want the world to see it, don't put it online. That said, if you're doing something illegal and making videos of it, please go ahead and put it online -- and don't forget to provide your mobile number for those temporary passwords!

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1)

AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894848)

I'm always amused by the mouthbreathers who take video of themselves committing some crime and post it on Youtube. Then they're shocked, SHOCKED, when the cops see it and they get arrested.

Re:i don't understand the shock here (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894942)

what is going on here is less east german secret police tracking innocent civilians, and more plain old gum shoe police work against actual criminals

RTFA. They're tracking enormous numbers of people, with no probable cause to believe these people are committing any crimes ... unless you consider "potentially having political affiliations the government doesn't like" to be probable cause, of course. It's a fishing expedition, something which US law has traditionally frowned upon but which is very characteristic of governments like the old East German one. It's perfectly true that people should be more careful about what information they post online. It is also true that our government should not be looking willy-nilly through the information people do provide in order to find the rope with which to hang them.

do police cruise the streets of your town? (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895252)

the policeman drives up and down the street, looks at cars, looks at people walking on the street, looking at residences...

is that a fishing expedition in your mind? of course not

but that's what you are calling a "fishing expedition" on the internet. you have this bizarre idea that information freely and openly and publicly published is somehow immune to public viewing of it by the government, by advertisers, by people you don't want to reconnect with. it's not just you, it's some sort of mass delusion, some sort of cognitive disconnect about the nature of the internet. people treat it as if it is their private keepsake box in their closet, when the internet is about the exact opposite of such a concept. you expect shock, dismay and disgust, that the police would look at something "private" when it isn't even remotely private. the problem is not the police. the problem is people who have this cognitive disconnect about the nature of the internet like you are demonstrating

Re:do police cruise the streets of your town? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33895394)

you expect shock, dismay and disgust

Wait, are you saying that people who have an expectation of privacy don't have an expectation of privacy? Man the supreme court is gonna have a field da... oh wait, the courts have been defining away "expectation of privacy" for years now, in direct contradiction to peeping tom laws, trespass laws, and so on. "Expectation" no longer means "what I expect", it means "whatever is least inconvenient for the cops".

do you understand (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895526)

that you have no expectation of privacy when you stand naked in the middle of times square screaming the secrets of your sex life?

then you understand why posting your private life on the MOST PUBLIC MEDIUM INVENTED BY MANKIND is not just a legal no-starter, but really is a completely logically incoherent concept

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894950)

The east german police secret police tracked innocent civilians AND did plain old gum shoe police work against actual criminals.

Why do you think that if an organization does one thing it means they can't or will not in the future do the other?

Re:i don't understand the shock here (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895100)

It's not so much that people misunderstand the internet, it's that they misunderstand computers and automation and what all that is capable of.

It's because everyone else assumes that the massive amount of information put on the internet makes their little tidbit just another drop in the ocean, and that in order for people to find it they have to be actively looking for it, and no one would look for it if they didn't know it already existed.

For example: My mother. She knows the Ballet has a phone number, but she doesn't know what it is. She'll go use the internet to look it up. Now the effort is there, she finds it, it makes sense.

But no one knows she would have vacation photos from 1995, so how are they possibly going to find them without searching them? They see the internet as the kind of place where everything can sit, and only the people you want to find stuff will be able to find it because they will be the only ones looking for it. Phone number? Yeah put it on your facebook because only your friends will see your Facebook. That's the kind of mentality there is. They think no one they don't know will bother looking at their facebook. And they figure it's better to have that accessibility to your friends and loved ones and it outweighs the "off chance" that someone you don't want to grab that information will find it.

The missing piece of the puzzle is that they don't seem to know that people can set up scripts to run through facebook profiles, and grab all the data it can, store it, analyze it, and be used by a variety of people in many different forms. From police work to advertising to far more malicious intents.

Everyone just thinks "It can't or won't happen to me" - you know like drunk driving or World of Warcraft.

well said (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895502)

the average joe just don't think like a computer scientist. a computer programmer can look at the internet and see a giant dataset ready to be be algorithmed to death. an IT guy, right before he or she hits the "Submit" button, can visualize the web spider that will arrive 10 minutes later, heuristically puree and flambee those words and pictures into an intelligent hierarchy, and offer it up for consumption to anyone typing search terms into a search engine 10 minutes later. the average joe just doesn't think like that

computer folk have a robots.txt file sitting between their brain and their fingers:

Blabbermouth-agent: *
Disallow: /sex life/
Disallow: /family life/
Disallow: /persionally damaging secrets/

the average joe has no such mental robots.txt

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895436)

against actual criminals

Nope. This sort of thing is perfectly legitimate, but we all know the vast majority of it isn't aimed at actual criminals, but merely people who happen to have been brought to the attention of the Organs of the State (as the Soviets used to call them.)

It's still perfectly legitimate police work, but like all police work it necessarily casts a wider net than criminals, which is why the presumption of innocence is such an important habit of mind.

Re:i don't understand the shock here (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895450)

what is the source of this glaring psychological defect so many of us share about the nature of the internet?

Narcissism.

More Spying vs. More Sharing (5, Insightful)

WhoseSideAreWeOn (1916768) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894304)

This is not a case of more spying by the government rather more volunteering of information by the citizens. There's a very simple solution if you don't want government spooks reading your facebook information: Don't post sensitive information on facebook (or anywhere on the internet for that matter)!

I'm actually not very worried (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894356)

..as I naively thought that the rule about writing down stuff whenever one wants the world to know it, is already a common knowledge. Those refusing to understand full potential of writing should take datamining courses.

Seems totally reasonable. (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894402)

I'm glad someone's using all the tools available to them to legally catch bad guys.
Also, I don't quite catch the "spying" aspect of this. You befriend suspicious people and engage them in conversation. Is that spying?

Re:Seems totally reasonable. (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894448)

Agree, with reservations. Gathering HumInt is something that our intelligence agencies have sucked at for a long time, so it's good to see them actually gather some. Still, it's more than a little creepy to see people accepting that being "a good citizen" means bending over and taking it every time Uncle Sam wants a look at our private parts. Once again, the terrorists win.

Re:Seems totally reasonable. (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894732)

All you have to do is not "Friend them". After all, you don't know them anyway, right? It's no different than being approached IRL.
For the record, I'll never be on Facebook.

Not the only ones by far. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894436)

I work for a bank, and as I'm sure you might guess, our Accounts Control folks (they are the people who repo delinquent property) use Facebook, Twitter, and others all the time to find where people are and where to find the delinquent property. It's incredibly effective.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894482)

several generations have grown up since the 80's and the STASI seem to have faded from consciousness, the death squads, the jackboot at the door, the disappearings in Latin America.
dont just give it to them on a digital platter. Who you know is precisely what they want to know.
Read shock doctrine by Naomi Campbell.
join arsebook. >> http://www.arsebook.org/
learn how to delete you feckbook profile>> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=16929680703
listen to analogue music
take natural drugs
read books!
fight the good fight!
nightnight

No Different (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894488)

So the government is just doing what every other person does.

Re:No Different (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894960)

Except that the government is not supposed to be free to do everything that an individual citizen can do. The bill of rights does not apply to individuals, it is a restriction on what the government can do.

The problem with Facebook is that most people do not feel that what they are sharing on Facebook really needs to be private -- after all, they are sharing things that their circle of friends already knows. The difference is that, where previously the government would have actually had to put effort into learning those details from a person's social circle, they can now just ask Facebook, and that process can be automated. Dispatching an agent to infiltrate your circle of friends and learn more about you would necessarily be reserved for cases where it was necessary; with that no longer being necessary, the government can keep track of citizens' lives en masse, which at the very least runs counter to the spirit of the 4th amendment.

After the Patriot Act was passed... (3, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894500)

...is this surprising? The Patriot Act "dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies' ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records." [wikipedia.org]
Facebook just makes it easier.

So, Slashdot...what information are you divulging to our government overlords? ;)

HIPAA (1)

company suckup (1351563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895438)

Even before the Patriot Act was enacted HIPAA is giving the government free access to our health information. Funny how the MBA droids in healthcare drone on and on about the privacy afforded a patient's medical records, but are deathly silent on how this law gives up our health information to the government on a silver platter.

Basically.... (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894520)

So basically....

Government: Hey, can we spy on you?
You: Sure, friend request accepted.

If you're being spyed on, its pretty much your fault. Its like giving the police access to your home and saying "Hey, come in whenever you want."

Re:Basically.... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895094)

More like,

Joe Schmoe: Hi I want to be your Facebook Friend!
You: Oh, sure, did we meet at that huge party?
Joe Schmoe: Yup!

With no indication that the request came from the government. I wouldn't be surprised if the process had been automated -- if the only time a live person was involved was when the target sent a message asking for details about the friend request.

You have a Facebook message: (4, Funny)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894596)

Robert S. Mueller, III just poked you. Poke him back? Robert S. Mueller, III tagged you in a photo. (picture of you sitting at your computer right now)

Re:You have a Facebook message: (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895126)

Robert S. Mueller, III just shared "Which kind of terrorist are you?" application with you. Take the survey now?

Something's missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894616)

The last story had a nice comment in the headline. Why not this one? Something along the lines of "Huge Shocker".

Suspects (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894622)

We all are suspects these days. It sucks and we should do something about it.

Re:Suspects (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894864)

We all are suspects these days. It sucks and we should do something about it.

Queue vision of a tween boy sitting sullenly behind his computer, sucking a lollipop and pouting.

Let the encryption begin (1)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894646)

Can somebody please program an add-on that encrypts messages, pictures and text on facebook?
E.g. like the blowfish add-on that exist for IRC programs, that makes text unreadable for people without the correct key.

Re:Let the encryption begin (3, Insightful)

genner (694963) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894770)

Can somebody please program an add-on that encrypts messages, pictures and text on facebook? E.g. like the blowfish add-on that exist for IRC programs, that makes text unreadable for people without the correct key.

A key that you give out to your friends?

Re:Let the encryption begin (5, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894862)

Using encryption on Facebook is like locking the doors on a house with no walls

Re:Let the encryption begin (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895340)

Analogy of the Day award goes to Ickleberry!

(Hey, we should make that a real Slashdot feature. You just click on a post to nominate it into a voting system, that could be a box on the right of the homepage, winner gets an achievement)

Re:Let the encryption begin (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894876)

What's the point of that? Making things secret and posting them publicly seem like mutually exclusive things to do. If you just want to communicate to a small group of people, send an email or an IM.

Re:Let the encryption begin (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895206)

It is interesting that you should bring up email and IM. I have a number of friends who are somewhat annoyed by the fact that I am not on Facebook and that they have to actually communicate with me using email/IM. For example, a friend posted some pictures of her at an event...and then seemed annoyed by the very concept of emailing those pictures to me, instead of just having me log in to Facebook and look at them. On a number of occasions, people have refused to send me an email at all, demanding that I just sign up for Facebook and look at their pictures there.

Personally, I think it is a little scary that Facebook itself is the dominant communications platform for so many people. No interoperability, no respect for privacy, and plenty of rules about what you can or cannot say or do (and you can forget writing a script or even attempting to automate something that Facebook's developers do not want you automating).

Re:Let the encryption begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33895128)

And how does this help when you then give the key to the government agent you just friended?

What would be (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894680)

Really interesting would be if someone managed to compile statistics on what the success rate for such fishing expeditions is, so that the public could see what an efficient use of public funds and time such methods provide.

When will people get their heads around the fact that the law-breaker always has the initiative? The only way you can successfully prevent all crimes is to chain everyone to a wall and gag them. All of this "prevention" necessarily comes at the cost of individual freedom and privacy. However as a side effect it produces data and situations that can easily be exploited by corrupt law enforcement officers and/or politicians. Western society is traveling down a very dangerous road, and most people seem oblivious to that fact.

Awww... How reassuring! (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894766)

So, what we should make of this is that the government has no other way of spying people on Facebook than befriending them.

How reassuring! Don't befriend unknown people and your privacy is safe from the guvmint's prying eyes!

Isn't this the best of all possible worlds? Thank you, Zuckerberg! Thank you, government!

P.S.: if you use Facebook, you deserve this crap.

Slashdot not on the list... (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894776)

Sadly, Slashdot is not on the list of social sites to monitor for activity. We're all just too dorky to matter. I mean, come on, Huffington Post? The girls are hotter over there, I guess.

Wrong focus (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894796)

The information on you that worth "spying" is already public. Not only the government (that should be more or less trustable) can access it. The NOT trustable people (for whatever reason, be plain thieves, scammers, lawyers or car dealers, pick the worst) can access it too.

Common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894834)

If you don't have a FaceSpaceTweetBook account (or one in your proper name), they can't spy on you. It's really very simple really.

our gov't afraid of US, what we might say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33894860)

not here, in america, 'god's' country? reminds us of the last regime to (pretend to) conquer terrorism. that was the third reich, which was adolf's answer to facebook types of behaviours. here in 'god's' country, we now have dozens of gestapo (police) like 'agencies' designed to 'keep the peace'/things quiet. nothing new, or anything that 'really matters', thank 'god'.

the corepirate nazi holycost is increasing by the minute. you call this 'weather'?

continue to add immeasurable amounts of MISinformation, rhetoric & fluff, & there you have IT? that's US? thou shalt not... oh forget it. fake weather (censored?), fake money, fake god(s), what's next? seeing as we (have been told that) came from monkeys, the only possible clue we would have to anything being out of order, we would get from the weather. that, & all the monkeys tipping over/exploding around US.
the search continues;
google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=weather+manipulation

google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+oil+freemason+blair+obama+weather+authors

meanwhile (as it may take a while longer to finish wrecking this place); the corepirate nazi illuminati (remember, (we have been told) we came from monkeys, & 'they' believe they DIDN'T), continues to demand that we learn to live on less/nothing while they continue to consume/waste/destroy immeasurable amounts of stuff/life, & feast on nubile virgins while worshipping themselves (& evile in general (baal to be exact)). they're always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere/planet (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

all the manuals say we're not to kill each other, & we're mandated to care for/about one another, before any other notion will succeed. one does not need to agree whois 'in charge' to grasp the possibility that there may be some assistance available to us, including from each other. there's also the question of frequent extreme 'distractions' preventing us from following the simple 'directions' we were given, along with everything we needed to accomplish our task. see you there?
boeing, boeing, gone.

Is this story really that suprising or new? (1)

savvysteve (1915898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895034)

I seem to recall that this was a story about 6 months ago or so. I will say that what is considered private is relative when it comes to technology and doing anything online. Just like security cameras and doing anything outside your home... There is "no reasonable expectation of privacy".

yuo2M fail it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33895072)

When done playing become 7ike they

classic case of gov waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33895316)

Well, think of the gov cost savings now that they can just use Bing ...

Are the rest of you going to listen finally? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#33895506)

Seriously: Are the rest of the myopic public going to finally come to their senses and realize this is now the truth? The good news is that it's not irrevocable: we can recover our privacy, it's just going to take effort and sacrifices to accomplish.
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